A lot has been said about the way Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka constructed this roster over the past month. There’s the common and ever-repetitive “they’re too old” and “this roster is past their prime” criticisms that many NBA analysts and fans have concurred on. But even if there’s reason to doubt this newly constructed Lakers squad, returning point guard Rajon Rondo begs to disagree.
Rondo, who chose to pursue greener pastures (literally, he wanted more money) over the Lakers last off season, believes Pelinka did a solid job of reconstructing a special roster this year. This season, Pelinka and Co. took the risk of moving away from their defense-first identity and invested in more offense and experience to complement and balance it instead.
And while banking on more basketball experience meant signing older players, the two-time champion is still confident that the team’s collective determination to bring another Larry O’Brien trophy to Los Angeles will outweigh their age.
“I think it’s a great roster. I think Rob did a hell of a job again,” Rondo said in his introductory press conference. “Kent Bazemore, we got (Wayne) Ellington as well, a knockdown shooter. A young talent in (Malik) Monk along with THT, so I think we’ve got a great mix of guys, a great group of guys that haven’t won and who have a chip on their shoulder, have so much to prove, and a balance of guys that have won.”
After acquiring Rondo, the Lakers’ overall average age stands at 30.9, but unlike last season, the purple and gold roster now consist of reliable shooters, more bench production, a third all-star and potentially an answer when LeBron James takes a breather.
Moreover, the addition of Rondo also expands the team’s overall IQ and playmaking options — something the Lakers severely lacked last season.
Speaking of what the Lakers were missing last year, this year’s three week training camp is set to take much longer than last season’s abbreviated version. Rondo, who will be a huge and key voice in the locker room, believes that time will be key for the Lakers in getting on the same page.
“I think we have great team chemistry, and I believe training camp is going to be big for us, how we start out and how we set the tone early on in the season and come together,” Rondo said.
Rondo may be the fifth-oldest veteran on the roster, but recent history — like his playoff run with the team less than a year ago — proves he can still be an effective player, similar to most of the role players that the Lakers acquired this summer. The Lakers may be old, but that does not mean they don’t have the chance to be a special team.
After all, experience often beats youth when it matters most.